a BLOOMING BUSINESS
Documentary / English, Swahili
It’s time to wake up and smell the imported roses.
Screening with Lessons From the night
Adrian Francis | Australia | 2008 | 9 min
There is very little need to force oneself through the security gates of flower farms in Kenya in order to film the environmental destruction and abuse of workers’ rights occurring in the large-scale farms supplying a hungry Dutch flower market. The evidence is quite plain from the contaminated water spewing out of the farms, the agonising illnesses caused by chemical industrial accidents, and the toll of long working days on human beings. Very quietly, director Ton van Zantvoort lifts the lid on what could be described as enslavement. The style of his film is not over-dramatic but instead offers snapshots of life on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Since the massive industry of flower farming – worth 400 million euros – arrived, there are very few ways to earn a living. Agnes used to be employed by one of the farms, but having worked in close proximity to harmful pesticides, she is scarred for life and knows she is now not pretty enough to be hired again. Jane, on the other hand, is still employed and clings on to her job so she can feed her children. She works at least 16 hours each day and has to be prepared to obey her supervisor, including submitting to his sexual demands. Oscar has been reduced to selling polluted water from the lake to local villagers – a demeaning job within his community. Kennedy has to continue fishing the lake in spite of dwindling fish breeding grounds since the flower farms began. The list of witnesses goes on. Everyone is powerless against the might of the flower farm and its seemingly complete disregard for human beings in favour of profit. However, the spark of hope that remains – which van Zantvoort manages to capture – exists in the dreams of these people: for a better job, for their children’s education, for a full exposé of the atrocious working conditions they have to endure in order to survive. Some are resolutely clinging to these dreams, but some are beginning to lose the battle as they are ground down. It is clear that a rose symbolises something quite different from love to those featured here. a BLOOM ING BUSINESS explores and exposes this injustice with a dignified strength.
Lessons From The Night
Maia is a Bulgarian locked in diplomatic limbo in Australia. A former translator for the United Nations, she reflects on her current job as an office cleaner in this subtle depiction of the absurd long-term consequences of being locked out of your own country by regime change.
Director: Adrian Francis
Producer: Melanie Brunt
Exec Producer: Gai Dunlop
Scriptwriter: Adrian Francis
Editor: Adrian Francis
DoP: Marcus Dineen
Sound Production: John Kassab
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